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Why the Intel Achievement Awards Ceremony was Amazing

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Note from the editor: The Intel Achievement Award, or IAA, is our company’s highest recognition. Intel hosted all 204 IAA winners—and their families—as part of the weekend-long celebration that started Friday night with a dessert reception. While some winners  live in the San Francisco Bay Area, many other IAA winners work at Intel sites all over the world. To show the company’s appreciation for their achievements, Intel treats these employees from Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the United States to a mini-vacation in one of the world’s great cities. As the celebrations took place last, one Intel employee, who was actually a winner’s plus one, wrote a blog post on our internal network about the amazingness he witnessed at the ceremony. Here is Keith’s experience.

I was fortunate enough this past weekend to be the guest of an IAA winner at the ceremony in San Francisco.  It was a great weekend, the sun shined the whole time and I even got a little sunburn walking around SF on Saturday.  The events around the ceremony were fantastic and well-coordinated.  I never truly understood the importance of these awards until this past weekend.  Sure, I knew they were the Intel’s highest honor, but I just never really GOT it until last weekend.  You couldn’t swing a laptop bag without hitting a Vice President in the Fairmont on Friday or Saturday, so I knew that our senior management recognized its significance.

But what was amazing about the weekend was not swapping stories over dinner with Executive Vice Presidents about the challenges of raising kids and working at Intel.  It wasn’t seeing which of the Executives was the last to leave the dance floor on Saturday night.  It wasn’t watching the executives who were asked to don all types of costumes in their video presentations (Harry Potter and a Cloud stand out as highlights.)

IAA.jpg The award winner and the “Plus one” (author)

What did amaze me were the brilliant things the people at this company do every day. The regular people you see in the cafes and hallways who push the limits of science and business in ways that no one else in the world does or can do.

I was also amazed by the humanity of the people in our company as I got teary-eyed while Tom Kilroy gave a big hug to every one of the winners of the Intel Hero Award (for their work after the tsunami in Japan) while they received about a 5 minute standing ovation from the other attendees.

I was amazed by how excited I got listening to the awards being presented and watching our leaders discuss the impacts of those accomplishments.

I’ve been at Intel since 1999 and it was probably the most excited I’ve been about Intel at an Intel meeting/event in a very long time.  Not just for what we’ve accomplished in the past few years, but what we will accomplish over the next few.  We are really good at what we do and we do it better than anyone in the world.

As I told a number of people at the events that weekend, that even though I was an Intel employee, I was just the “plus one” to my partner who won an IAA. But I could not help being an excited employee listening to the remarkable things the people at this company do every day, much of which I don’t understand beyond the most basic level (who am I kidding? I don’t understand A LOT of how we do what we do. I still think it requires some sort of magic to put a billion of anything on a tiny piece of silicon).  I was excited to work at the same company with these geniuses; I was excited about what the future holds not only for Intel, but for the world in general.  And proud to be a small part of what Intel does to change the world.

Thanks to the people who put this event together, thanks to the people who won the award for what they’ve done and to the other 100,000 of us who do what we do but may not win IAA’s.

The IAA is a pretty big deal and the people who win them have done remarkable things, but Intel does a good job of recognizing people in other ways from our Intel Quality Award (which I have one as part of HR some years back) to instant recognition from your colleagues and peers and a number of other levels of recognition in between.

…and for the vast majority of us who haven’t won an IAA.  I highly recommend doing so, as Intel puts on a pretty decent party.